Key points of the telecom bill draft

On September 21, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) unveiled the draught Indian Telecommunications 2022 Bill, which includes a proposal to exempt telecom and internet service providers from fines and charges.

After being formalised into a Parliamentary Act, the much-awaited draught Bill will control the industry.

The draught Bill will be open for public feedback until October 20.

Development Fund for Telecommunications

The Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) would be renamed Telecommunication Development Fund under the proposed legislation (TDF). The USO fund is produced by the telecom service providers’ annual turnover. The Consolidated Fund of India will initially receive credit for any funds collected for the TDF.

The money will improve connections in disadvantaged urban, rural, and remote locations. Additionally, it will promote the implementation of new communications services and help with skill training and study into new telecommunication services.

OTT guidelines

In order to include over-the-top (OTT), satellite-based communication, internet-based communication services, in-flight and maritime connectivity, interpersonal communications services, and machine-to-machine communication services in the scope of the draft bill, the government has expanded the description of telecoms services.

The proposed Bill requires OTT services like WhatsApp to apply for a government licence.

Failure to pay by licensees

The government may defer the payout of such amounts, transform some or all of the payment sums into equity, write off the payable sums, or grant relief from payment in the occurrence of nonpayment and in exceptional cases, such as economic pressure, customer preferences, preserving competition in the sector, or consistency and ongoing supply of telecommunication services.

Exemption from interception

The proposed law would prohibit intercepting “press messages that are intended to be published in India” sent by correspondents recognised by the federal or state governments.

The proposal specifies that the waiver will not be given, however, in the event of a national emergency or in the sake of everyone’s safety, the sovereignty, integrity, or security of India, or to maintain good relations with other countries, maintain public order, or stop encouragement to crime.

In the event of bankruptcy

In insolvency, the spectrum allotted to a business shall return to government control, according to the proposed Bill.